New Zealand Rugby have confirmed they're in talks for the All Blacks to face the Kangaroos in an historical cross-code clash - almost three years after reports of this hybrid match first emerged. This piece was originally published in November 2017, when Cameron McMillan broke down the hypothetical encounter.
If the game was played in 2019, as the report from the Daily Telegraph suggested, then the answer is easy - the All Blacks. Because the chances of Cam Smith, Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater, Paul Gallen and a fit Johnathan Thurston all playing together in another two years is extremely unlikely.
The All Blacks would be at their peak after playing in a World Cup. But what if the game was played this weekend between the two sides named to played their respective upcoming tests (All Blacks side to face France and Kangaroos side to play Lebanon)?
First off we need to look at the rules of Hybrid Rugby which probably suits the Kangaroos.
It's 13 vs 13. Six forwards and seven backs and seven subs.
So not much change for the Kangaroos squad but the All Blacks would have to drop two forwards - probably dropping the two props.
1.Valentine Holmes, 2. Dane Gagai, 3. Will Chambers, 4. Cameron Munster, 5. Josh Mansour, 6. James Maloney, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Aaron Woods, 9. Cameron Smith (C), 10. David Klemmer, 11. Boyd Cordner, 12. Matt Gillett, 13. Felise Kaufusi. Reserves: 14. Ben Hunt, 15. Jordan McLean, 16. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 17. Wade Graham. 18. Josh McGuire, 19. Michael Morgan, 20. Josh Dugan,
1 Damian McKenzie, 2 Waisake Naholo, 3 Ryan Crotty, 4 Sonny Bill Williams, 5 Rieko Ioane, 6 Beauden Barrett, 7 Aaron Smith, 8 Sam Whitelock, 9 Dane Coles , 10 Luke Romano, 11 Sam Cane, 12 Vaea Fifita, 13 Kieran Read (c). Reserves: 14 Codie Taylor, 15 Wyatt Crockett 16 Scott Barrett, 17 Matt Todd, 18 Lima Sopoaga, 19 Anton Lienert-Brown
Advantage: Kangaroos. Only because they don't change anything. But then again the All Blacks have played with 13 men before and would probably take one training session to sort themselves out. Still slight advantage to the Aussies.
"When the team in possession is in their own (defensive) half of the field, the game is played in accordance with the rules of Rugby League ('Play the Ball'). When the team in possession is in the (attacking) half of the field, the game is played in accordance with the laws of Rugby Union ('Ruck and Maul')."
All Blacks v Kangaroos: Can $50m blockbuster really happen?
That clearly plays into the hands of the All Blacks. As soon as you're on the attack it's rugby laws. The All Blacks defense is so well organised they'd so no issues when the Kangaroos were on attack. You can see the All Blacks loosies stealing the ball all day. Retaining the ball in rugby is an art. Dealing with a breakdown is second nature for rugby players. The Kangaroos would have no chance. Advantage: All Blacks.
"A Shot Clock is used to restrict the attacking side to sixty (60) seconds of possession in each half of the field (no tackle counts are used). NB - The average time for a set of six tackles is (48-50) seconds."
Wait a second. The All Blacks can't produce 11 straight phases and sap energy out of the opposition. They'll have to play the game at pace instead, which they are still really good at. Advantage: All Blacks.
Conclusion: The Kangaroos would struggle with the rugby rules, especially against the best rugby team in the world. There'd barely get through two phases without turning the ball over. Anyway, all we know is that Sonny Bill Williams would be man of the match, Beauden Barrett would get 10-year million dollar offers from every NRL team after the clash and a drop goal would decide it. And we know how rubbish league players are at drop goals.